Have you been admiring local fall landscapes that are starting to flaunt their foliage? “Fine Gardening” has a terrific layout and some great articles in the current issue. Gorgeous gardens in the fall don’t just happen. I have some suggestions that will help you create an autumn garden that gives you great pleasure. First, take some time to analyze your garden as it is. Walk through your property this fall-more than once-and make note of what is interesting and admirable in autumn. Take notes or photographs; what is it that you like? What is missing? Think about where you are when you are most likely to observe the garden during the fall months. There will be windows through which you look; the sidewalk, the driveway, front and back doors. Where else? How much time, money and space do you want to devote to the off-season interest in your garden? How about strategically placed containers? (Don’t forget that plants overwintered in a container should be rated 2 zones hardier to insure viability.) It’s been said that if you limit your efforts to your front walk, it is probably all that is necessary for the majority of your visitors. But, think also of yourself and your family and where you might enjoy some color or fragrance in the autumn. Consider rearranging plants you already have from singleton positions to create lovely autumn vignettes. Make sure that the cultural conditions for all of the plants in a group is the same. One of the challenges and also the greatest satisfaction in gardening may be in creating pleasing plant combinations which together have a greater impact than the individual plants. Create color echoes between berries and blooms, foliage and grasses. If you have a tree with stunning fall color, pick some leaves and carry them with you to help select companion plants that will pick up the same tones. Make a note of any microclimates that might influence where you site plants for the fall; a sun facing wall will store a bit of solar heat; the bottom of a slope is a frost pocket, protection from winter winds will improve the odds for a marginally hardy plant. Keep a running list of plants that you would like to include in your garden. Visit nurseries, public and private gardens during the fall. You can check out what the plants actually look like and how large they become. This is really important; one of our local garden writers talks about the cute, puppy-like quality of plants at the nursery. They beg you to take them home and slip them into the garden somewhere and then they become the Hound of the Baskervilles. Take photos-to remember what you like and also to get assistance in identifying plants you don’t recognize. If possible, revisit your favorites in winter, spring and summer, because if you acquire a plant, you will have to look at it through all the seasons. Some nurseries, such as Wells Medina, have exquisite seasonal containers full of shrubs and perennials-a great place to get ideas for stunning plant combos. Read everything you can find on plants that shine in autumn. The local library is a goldmine of information. I keep a list of garden books that I see recommended or reviewed, then I use the winter months to catch up on all that reading. Keep a notebook of photos, magazine pages, and internet printouts of plants and ideas that appeal to you. You can keep your notebook electronically using OneNote or EverNote. The internet has an astounding array of horticultural resources. Take your time and do your research. But after all is considered, don’t be bullied into choosing some ballyhooed brute with one season of interest that is too big, too coarse or too temperamental for your garden. Choose the plants that are best for you. Then integrate your carefully chosen trees, shrubs and perennials into a design with all year interest.